CSPL Employee Spotlight: Unveiling our Gems
Assistant Director, Office of Graduate Intern Programs
Myra is Assistant Director for the Office of Graduate Intern Programs. Myra meets with prospective graduate students and discusses the programs UIS has to offer and help them find new career paths they may not have been aware of.
“In the last 4 years, Myra has immersed herself in the policies and working details of the Graduate Public Service Internship Program and has pursued continuous improvement in all aspects of the program. She has streamlined and modernized many of the systems we use for daily operation including the application process, recruitment efforts and interview and selection of student interns. At the core of her work ethic is the welfare of our many students and her intuition and thoughtfulness contributes to their ultimate success as student interns. I value her attention to detail and accuracy and her uncanny knack for knowing what I want before I ask for it! In her spare time, Myra is pursuing a Doctor of Education degree in Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership in Higher Education at UIUC and she willingly shares her expanding knowledge with the GPSI Team.” – Sherrie Elzinga, Director, Office of Graduate Intern Programs.
Learn a little more about Myra:
What does your position entail, what do you like most about your job or what motivates you to wake up and go to work?
Formally, I get to meet with prospective graduate students and discuss the programs UIS has to offer and help them find new career paths they may not have been aware of. I also get to experience first-hand the excitement of both students and supervisors when an internship match is made. Informally, I’m given opportunities to explore my specific interest areas and new ideas, volunteer opportunities around campus, and get involved with things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. The part of my job that I like most has two parts- first is knowing we are providing opportunities to students to propel them through graduate school while also introducing them to public service careers. The second part is the growth I’ve been able to experience personally and professionally in this position.
What drew you to your current position?
Fresh out of completing my Master’s degree, I was looking for experience working with different student populations. I already had experience working with freshmen and transfer students and was hoping to explore and learn more about graduate and international students. Also, I was very excited by the possibility of working for the University of Illinois System and getting closer to my home and family near Decatur, IL.
What has been your favorite project thus far?
It’s difficult to pick just one, because I’m incredibly proud of two major things. First was the establishment of a Graduate School Fair at UIS. When I first arrived, I saw a need to expose current undergraduates and community members to UIS Graduate School offerings. In Spring of 2018, we hosted our first fair in partnership with Graduate Education, Admission, and Marketing and have continued to host this fair every year. We even adapted 2021’s fair to a Graduate School Week of Webinars where all programs got the chance to host their own webinar. My second favorite project has been the transition of GPSI’s application to a new platform utilized by Admission which provides seamless connectivity of the admission application to the GPSI application. It has automated our process, eliminated endless stacks of paper files, and allows students to easily access the application from their graduate school application.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
Currently, I’m privileged to work under Sherrie Elzinga who has shown me the importance of consistency, empathy, resiliency, dedication, etc. so I already have a wonderful mentor in her. However, as someone who is passionate about educational issues, specifically women’s educational rights, it would make sense for me to choose a historical leader in this area. After running through the long list in my mind of influential women in education, the person that continuously came to mind was my granny, Myra Buchanan. While she never attended college, I am choosing her because of the care and compassion she showed every living being she came in contact with. Her kindness and empathy is something I aspire to and believe many could benefit from. She was always smiling, no matter how tough a situation was. I believe working in education requires this same kindness and empathy as well as respect for all around us.
What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I can clap with one hand!
What is your motto or personal mantra?
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Any favorite line from a movie?
My favorite movie, The Sandlot: “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”